Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for October 8th!
Gilles Villeneuve was one of the most spectacular drivers of his day. He scored his first Grand Prix win late on October 8th, 1978 on home ground at Montreal at the Montréal Grand Prix. This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of Canada, looks at the career of this Canadian Formula One hero.
Gilles was obsessed with the need to drive so badly, that at the age of 15 he secretly made a copy of the keys to the family car, and sneaked out for a drive one rainy night. His joy-ride ended in a crash, totalling the family car and forcing Gilles to walk home.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues at 17, when after reading much on the subject of auto racing, he decided to make a living doing what he loved best – drive very fast. He purchased a Ford Mustang and after some modifications, started entering local drag races.
Discovered and introduced to Formula One by James Hunt, Villeneuve made his debut for McLaren at Silverstone in 1977. Despite an impressive performance in his first taste of F1 machinery, team principal Teddy Mayer passed over him for another race car driver.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues when Enzo Ferrari snapped Villeneuve up and added him to his driver roster at the end of the year when Niki Lauda left the team. Villeneuve remained with Ferrari for the rest of his career.
Villeneuve’s unpredictable reputation won him both criticism and praise. Some viewed him as an extreme risk-taker, other praised his never-say die attitude. In his third F1 start at Fuji he collided with Tyrrell’s Ronnie Peterson and cartwheeled off the track, his car striking and killing two spectators who were standing in a restricted area.
This Canadian History for Kids article continues when he scored his first Grand Prix win late in 1978 on home ground at Montreal. The track was later named after him.
Ferrari slumped in 1980 and any hope of a championship win was far from their minds. The 1981 car was not much better but Villeneuve did produced two amazing wins, one at Monaco, the other with a four-car train of rivals on his heels at Jarama in Spain.
But that sixth win was to prove his last. On May 8, 1982, Villeneuve died after an accident during the final qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder.
And that’s this week Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada.